Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dust in the Wind

The dog cave where I buried my beloved Jasper has opened up with the melting ice and snow. I peeked down into it hoping to find a trace of my old friend. Nothing is there. Not a thing. Just dust. All I have left of him are memories of all those wonderful years together. I adored that dog. When all is said and done, that's all we have to leave behind us - memories. Let them be good ones.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Snow Storm Coming

Another storm is coming tomorrow night through Friday. I'm not surprised. Three years ago I had a little doe kid freeze to death during the day, before I got home from work, on April 17th. I think of that day as a sort of marker for how long it can stay cold up here. People are moaning and groaning, but we will deal with it. I've been enjoying the extra light after work. I stopped to visit the house where Izzy was born, which I've passed every day for the five years I've had Izzy, but never did. This time I saw someone on the porch and couldn't resist. Izzy had been returned to the breeder then passed around from owner to owner, but has a forever home with me. The woman was so happy to hear Izzy was finally in such a good place. I was able to meet Izzy's mother! What a thrill. Izzy looks just like her. Sadly, Izzy's sister was also returned to the breeder, but is not a happy well-adjusted Rat Terrier like Izzy. This dog is growly and snappy and runs away, so unlike my Izzy. Low and behold, when I returned home yesterday Izzy came running up to me, quite hysterical. I had just been bragging about Izzy and how he never runs away, but on this day he sneaked out of the barn when I was doing morning chores, and stayed away until I left for work. I know he was busying himself around the farm, chasing chickens and cats and eating tasty bits of old manure. Then suddenly he realized I was gone off to wherever-it-is his woman goes to every day. Izzy missed his sofa and the other inside dogs, and had a long, worrisome day. There is a whole barn filled with hay he could have cozied up in, and maybe he did, but he was really happy to see me. Chores are waiting, but I took the time to go through another bag or two of old clothes in the tractor shed. I was oohing and aaahing about the lovely things I was pulling out of the bags. I'm so sentimental and emotional about things, and memories came flashing back, one by one - the dress I wore on my honeymoon cruise, the outfit I crocheted while waiting for AJ and Mia to be born, the dress I wore when I flew to Atlanta to see my mother when she had her stroke, the sweater I wore to visit Eric at VMI, etc. I reached in a bag and felt something hard. Is this a shoe or boot I thought? Well, after groping around it and feeling some fur, I took a better look and saw that it was a dead possum, and I was holding on to it's skull. I confess I made a bit of a start when I saw the dead face staring up at me. Luckily this was a bag of sexy nightgowns, which I can surely do without these days. The contents went in the dumpster. Don't know what to do with the poor possum. I carried in two bundles of sweaters, dresses and pants, which included an Icelandic cardigan I forgot about, more fantastic slacks that are too small (not for too long I vow) and some cute summer outfits. I am all set for this spring and summer and next fall and winter. I'm glad I hauled the treasure up to the barn with me where it will be safe from sick possums looking for warmth and comfort. If only I had a closet to put it in. That's another matter altogether. Got the doggies up to the top of the hill, now it's time for dinner, chores, another fleece to sort, and then it will be bed time and a very welcome sleep.

Up Earlier

I opened my eyes at 5:30 and flipped the magic switch. Multatelli's Thor's Hammer is my friend - only surpassed by Starbuck's French Roast! Bella spent the night with me after a couple of nights in the barn. I noticed one knee getting worse and was worried about the cold affecting her bad bones. I don't know how such a beautiful purebred ewe could have such a weak lamb. Compared to the other lambs in the barn she is a very poor representation of her breed, but I love the little cripple. I'm on a roll with the wool sorting and dyeing. Got another fleece picked, washed and dyed last night. I love the feel of the fibers in my fingers - like going back to the stars my friend Harry Kelley said. Gosh, if he was hetero I would probably be writing him love letters. He has a finger on my pulse, and totally understands the pull of the fibers. I have many fleeces to sort through and will do another one tonight. I have to spread out my time, as I can't not do soap and Bundaflicka Bags, with Maryland looming large...but today is a work day and I have to get this show on the road. Two big mugs of foamy coffee and I'm ready to suit up and run the dogs up the hill before I start slinging bales. Another BIG storm is forecast for Friday, can you believe it? I don't know if I have any more sick, or "sheep" days left! Before I had sheep I would actually accumulate sick days from year to year, and left many unused in New Jersey. How life has changed...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hot Off the Machine

Just what every knitter needs - a happy, bright new tote for the summer. Even the pretty plaid lining is cheerful. This heavy duty upholstery fabric will wear like iron. How about my newest Fimo clay buttons? I have so much fun making them.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Lean On Me

My moms are unbelievably stoic and patient with their lambs. The young ones love to use their mothers as cushions to stand and lie on, or just snuggle up against. Who can blame them with all that lovely wool to cozy up to.

Soap 2011

I made the first batch of soap in 2011 last night - lavender, of course. Who can be without lavender soap? I like my new soap mold box which accomodates the six half-gallon milk containers perfectly. Mark Jones of Affordable Carpentry in New Berlin built it for me. The box is "glued and screwed" and won't fall apart when the soap hardens and expands. I pull the blocks out and strip the wax paper off, then slice the blocks by hand like a big loaf of bread. Now my bars will not be bowed as before when I was propping them up with cedar shims - the same shims I use in the bottom of my Bundaflicka Knitting Totes. I used to trim the bars square then melt the scraps for shaving blocks. This system is much better. Thank you, Mark Jones.

Mom in Love

Sheep love their babies and want them to be happy and thrive. This little guy is not doing well and Dolly is worried. Twin brother is doing better, but neither are coming along the way I would like. I don't know how old Dolly is exactly, but I know she's getting on in years. She was rescued from a petting zoo and they knew nothing about her. I adore Dolly and won't breed her again. She gave me two beautiful ewe lambs prior to this year. She's earned her keep.

Farm Road

I made this road with my truck last summer while riding Hannah and Luke around the farm. I love dirt roads and wish I lived on one. It's convenient to be on a main thoroughfare when it's snowing and I have to get to work, but I hate cars and trucks whizzing by at break-neck speed. I love to climb the hill and pretend there are no roads, or neighbors, for miles around.

Early Sunday Morning Walk

I took the doggies up to the pond early yesterday morning. It was a soft and lovely time of day and we took our time. Soon the fields will wake up and burst with green, but not this week. Night temps are in the teens and the sheep want to stay in the barn.

Still Clear and Cold

Sunny, blue skies and temps in the teens. This chilly weather will remain with us through the week. Winter still has a grip on us. I really don't mind, but I need the hills to grow some grass for my sheep to eat. I opened the back barn door for the non-maternity part of the flock to wander out, but, with nothing out there to eat, they choose to stay in their chateau. I'm shearing on April 9 with my faithful buddy, Jim Baldwin. This time I will have plenty of help with Andrew and Mia along with Kim and Rob, both strong sturdy people. I need all the help I can get with a LOT of animals that need shearing. I hope Jim eats his Wheaties the next two weeks. I picked a lovely fleece last night, found in the Tractor Shed, which has to be five years old. It's still lovely and soft. I think I will dye it purple for the base of another Pacifica run. I will be heavy on the black fleeces this year - great for the people who like the rich, darker colors. Not so good for the people who want the bright pinks and yellows. Maybe in the fall. I get a lot of "oh, I should have gotten more of this or that" and I just sigh because I tried to tell them but they didn't listen. I can't repeat a run because I dye what I have and go into my "zen-like state" when combining colors. I got a batch of Lavender done last night and poured it into my brand new soap-mold-box. It worked fantastically but I have to be sure and buy the half-gallon cartons without the plastic orifices on the sides. They prevented the empty milk containers from sliding all the way down, but the box still worked better than the old plastic container with shims propping up the milk cartons. It feels good to get back into the soap making groove again. It's still a thrill for me, and I have my recipe down pat so I can relax and enjoy the magic. Matt left for his energy conference San Francisco today after a brief stop home to wash his clothes. I wish I could tattle tale on him and tell his save-the-world friends that he constantly leaves the lights on, turns on the electric heat when I'm not looking, and throws hay on the floor for the sheep to step on and pee on. Hay-making is a horrible energy gorging activity, with all the gas used to run the tractors and balers when planting and harvesting, and every blade is precious. I'm working on some ideas for hay feeders now.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bella's Bad Bones

My poor little Bella has retracted tendons in her front legs. She is growing and gaining weight but her little legs don't seem to be getting any better. I keep her in the barn during the day so she can be with her flock. Bella spends her nights with me inside. Whenever I roll over or get up in the night, she makes a little baaaa to say hello. She's such a sweetie. I wish we could get her legs straightened out.

First Dye Pot

I picked Chartreuse by Jacquard for my first dye pot of the season this year. Kimmie Cornerstone suggested I duplicate a Mother Fiber roving from last year which she really liked. It was chartreuse, orange and yellow Bluefaced Leicester wool blended with a lovely black fleece. I thought it was rather odd looking, but customers loved it and Kim spun some fabulous yarn with it. That girl is a world-class spinner, on a drop spindle or a wheel. We laugh when her yarn sells faster than mine. You go, Girl!

Frozen Chobani

I pass the Chobani yogurt factory twice a day, every day. Last Monday it was barely visible in the snow storm I was commuting in. No wonder I baled on the following Wednesday when another storm was forecast. I'm always worried about being stuck somewhere and not able to get back to my lambs!

More Snow?

Last Monday I drove to work in miserable conditions. The following Wednesday saw another storm conspiring to make my commute dangerous. Here we are on March 26 and it's bitter cold out. The wood stove is going full tilt and I'm still keeping the oven on for the kitties in the milk room. Truth be told, I love "wool weather" as long as I don't have to drive in it and as long as I have a big wood pile, an even bigger hay pile in the mow, and a good supply of cat and dog food. Oh, and the same goes for coffee and milk for me. I always have eggs these days. Bless my chickens - I will always have delicious meals that come in biodegradable packages.

Saturday Bliss

I've said it so many times before - would we appreciate the weekend if we did not dwell in employment entrapment during the week? I don't know, but I'm enjoying this. I should be rushing to the feed mill now to get there before it closes, but if I give the chickens cracked corn and "fitting" (which they love) I can get away with it. They might not lay two dozen eggs a day without their layer mash, but I can do without that many eggs for a week. I gave four dozen to a student to take home yesterday, and stocked the other kitchen on our floor. I have several dozen in my room to use. I was going to make quiche with my culinary arts student but he's been absent. I'll get other students to do it and we'll have marvelous aromas wafting through the floor. Yesterday we took some students out to celebrate Santana's GED diploma. We hate to see her go but she already has an interview at her mom's insurance firm. What joy for her and all concerned. She's our only GED completion this year, but we are almost there on another one. Robin and I treated the students to a pizza lunch, which was a lot of fun until the ranch dressing was poured over the pizza. Drowning good pizza in ranch dressing is an upstate New York tradition, and one that makes me gag. Thick salad dressing is so BAD for you, and watching good pizza ruined like that is disgusting. I thought we would get away without it yesterday, but Robin ran to get Santana her ranch dressing from the salad bar. I made the mistake of commenting on it, offending their regional pride I'm sure. Oh, well, I may live in the barn with the sheep but I will always be the snob from New Jersey. Not a problem. We moved on to the cute little head shop/pet store across the Main St. in Norwich, where Santana fell in love with a guinea pig. There were lovely tropical birds there, including one love bird who was grieving horribly for his mate who was sold three weeks ago! He kept shrieking into the air, calling and calling for the lost friend. I asked the proprietor why he didn't sell them as a pair, and he said he tried. At $75 each, I can almost understand it, but how cruel, and how perplexing he has not yet supplied the poor little thing with another bird friend. I noticed he was selling Red Slider turtles, which are wild animals. I thought that was illegal. Not wanting to start something in front of my students I let it go. I used to pick them up on the road to save them from cars and bring them home to my farm until I found out they are not an indigenous turtle species and are terribly invasive. The Red Slider will drive out the local turtles. I adore turtles but the most I have seen around my farm and this area are giant snappers! Their presence makes swimming in my pond even more exciting. Back to work. I have several bags in process of construction. My new soap mold box is finished. After at least ten years of wishing and hoping I finally called the number of a local carpenter. A week later I have my rigid wooden box, which will hold up the half-gallon milk cartons without allowing them to bow out. A school friend made me one a couple of years ago but it broke the first time I used it. Mark Jones, the carpenter, promised me that this box is "glued and screwed" and won't bust open. I hope to try it out today. Now my bars will be square without my having to trim them and think of things to do with the trimmings. This cold, clear, windy and sunny day is awasting. Better get to it.

Dolly Has Twin Rams

I was giving my after-work bottles yesterday when I heard a little maaaa, maaaa at the end of the barn. There she was, my Dolly, the Romney/Corriedale cross (I think) who was rescued from the Frog Pond Farm petting zoo, with a tiny little baby, steam rising in the cold. I adore Dolly. I bought her to help build a relationship with a student who was working where Dolly was living. She had several years of wool on her and was trapped in a tiny pen for people to poke at her. Not a good life for such a grand sheep. Dolly is a very satisfied, self-possessed sheep who never really bonded with the flock, but is supremely happy in her new home. The last two years she has presented me with a lovely ewe lamb - first Mary Magdalene, then Dina. Alas, she had twin boys this time. I'm trying to forgive her. They are cute and frisky and it's hard to be mad at Dolly. She's a wonderful mother, and, thankfully, followed me into the jug. It took a bit of doing as I had to undo several panels and bend them back with one hand while holding the boys in the other arm. The bottle babies were tripping me up and confusing Dolly, but she followed the scent of her own babies. I had to squeeze them a little to make them yell to keep Dolly's attention. Dolly gave birth at the far end of the barn in the dirt. Good thing I had put the fence back up to keep everybody inside. I left them last night with sweaters on and lots of hay. Dolly had a good long drink from a bucket of warm molasses water to get her milk going. I fell asleep after chores and did my characteristic waking up every couple of hours. I rarely get a straight night's sleep. I think it's from having my own premature baby twins years ago, then ten year's raising sheep. Who knows. It may be Saturday morning but I've got to get this show on the road and check on Dolly and the Boys. Very cold and clear out there, but bright and beautiful.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

White World

The farm is covered in snow again. A much hyped storm came through, but was not nearly what they described. The radar and forecast made it look much worse, and, after a harrowing commute on Monday, I decided to stay home on the farm. I was worried about getting stuck at work and not being able to get home to the bottle lambs, as the brunt of the storm was expected later in the day. We did have a nice little snow, just enough to make everything pretty. I got a fair amount done, including dyeing my first fleece of the season, a pretty white Bluefaced Leicester, which is now chartreuse. Oh, it's lovely. I have two burners working on the dye stove, which is enough as I can only fit two giant pots on it. I have four bags going, which I was determined not to do, as you go on sewing forever before you have one to hang up. Suddenly you have four, but it's an eternity. I thought I would accomplish more on my precious "sheep day" but I spend too much time doting on the critters, stoking the wood stove, feeding them and me, checking FB and Yahoo for bulletins from civilization. One trip to the PO and suddenly the day is over and it's time for evening chores, which tend to go on forever. The coyotes are singing up a chorus on the hill. The White Boys are responding with their own deafening chorus, telling the varmints not to come close or they will have them for dinner. I have no doubt that they would. Those Boys are half wild themselves and would like nothing better than to tear some coyote limb from limb. Truth be told I love the coyotes and enjoy standing by the barn in the dark listening to them. That wild yipping and yowling makes the hair on my neck stand up, but it's wonderful. I adore wild things, and was grateful the White Boys are locked in the barn, guarding the lambs which is their job, and where they can't hurt the coyotes. I thought I would sew but I think I am going horizontal. Nighty-night.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Snow on Mother's Day?

I was just saying to someone that we can have snow on Mother's Day here in the Great North Land. Last year we did and here is the picture. Mia came to visit me on Mom's Day and we went somewhere. I don't remember where but here is the snow!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Down

What a commute this morning! Just as I was finishing chores I noticed the snow getting heavier. By the time I left the roads were covered and getting worse by the minute. I skipped King's Settlement Road, the quicker by higher and curvier road I usually take to work, and headed to South New Berlin where I could cut over to Norwich. Traffic was very slow, with several people run off the road, and one accident causing a traffic jam with fire engines, etc. I finally got to work after driving an hour and ten minutes. An icy rain is falling tonight, with much fog making the farm very spooky outside. Luckily I can stay inside where it's bright, dry and cozy. The ram lambs I banded yesterday are fine and nursing from their moms, tails wagging. I was concerned as they are a couple of months old, but no problems. Their scrotums were not very big at all, and I was able to make sure I got both testicles below the band. I apologized and told them that with this procedure done they won't have to go in the freezer! I banded all the black boys and oh, wow, will I have some nice black fleeces! Perfect for dyeing purple, dark blue or scarlet. I climbed up to the hay mow and got the bales tossed down when it was still light. Guess I'm still spooked by Kim and Darryl's ghost encounter of a month ago. I know ghosts can come downstairs, but I don't want to be startled and fall off the ladder with nobody around. Who knows when I would be found and the critters would go hungry! I got chores done in two hours, dinner done, and will go out now to feed Thor, Finn and Knut AKA "The White Boys." Oh, they are so funny. All litter mates but SO different it's unbelievable. With four breeds of Livestock Guardian Dog in them, anything is possible. Yes, they are Great Pyrenees, Akbash, Maremma and Tatra (the Polish sheep guarding/companion dog). I think Thor is mostly Maremma, Finn is mostly Tatra and Knut is mostly Akbash. Very complex and interesting doggies...and they LOVE their Mommy! Quite frankly, I think they exist for me, not the sheep, but that's okay too. They still run the varmints off. On deck for tonight - sew until I can't keep my eyes open any longer. I'm watching the HBO documentary on the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire of 100 years ago. One great thing about being a teacher is that we are SO pro-union. In this recent anti-union climate, it's important to remember who gave us the eight hour workday, the week end, medical benefits, and a SAFE workplace. Off to play with the doggies...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bottle Brigade

They plague me wherever I go in the barn, tripping me and nibbling on my pants. I've cut them down to two bottles a day so they will eat hay, but they want their bottles. The worst one is Kimmie Cornerstone's favorite lamb, Doodle (also known as Prince Harry). I call him "Stew Pot," as that is where he is headed if he doesn't leave me alone to do my chores.

New Duds

Chez Tractor Shed yielded some cool new duds for my late winter/spring wardrobe. Five years in black plastic bags and they still look good. I found everything from Ralph Lauren wool jackets to my London Fog raincoat with the bright red lining and collar. I also found enough GAP shirts and pants to get me through the summer, along with several Laura Ashley cotton dresses I bought in England years ago. Don't know about the half dozen thrift shop Irish and Scottish kilts as they are all size 6 or 8, but I'll see what I can do. At least I saved them from the notorious hookers, who comb the used clothing shops for wool garments to cut up for their rugs.

New Lamb

It's still a thrill to see a new little one, struggling to get up on her legs - yes, it's a girl! I was putting bands on my black boys when I looked up and there she was, next to her mom. I love those long, spindly Bluefaced Leicester legs. They are so elegant, and those pointy fawn ears are so pretty! I'm waiting for a possible twin to come out, but maybe not. Thank you Mom, for not having her at 7:30 tomorrow morning when I am all dressed and rushing out to work. That still may happen, as Dolly is also due and possibly one more ewe. Then lambing season is over for this year.

"I Love A Warm Pig Belly...

...don't you, Um?" Some movies grow on me and I watch them over and over again. I notice new things every time. Alice in Wonderland is one of them. Love the Red Queen, the white rabbit, and all the critters, and Alice's hair is fantastic. If I could just get mine to look like that. Will do some sewing before I start various things. Got a batch of creme made last night and it came out so nice and creamy. If only I could get it to come out the same way twice, but it's always wonderfully soothing and healing. I'm doing tails and balls today. I hate to neuter my little boys, but it's the only way I can keep them for wool without them making complete nuisances out of themselves. I have some spectacular black males, big boys, 3/4 Bluefaced Leicester and 1/4 Merino, with thick soft fleeces that will give me some luscious wool. Some of my best ewes had males. They are taking such good care of their boys, too. I'm firing up the dye pots today, if I can get the two remaining burners on my dye stove to work. I'll have to scrape away the chicken droppings. Who could blame the birds for wanting to roost over the stove which I kept on for the kitties when it was 20 below zero? I have to take Matt to the airport in Syracuse and pick up some shims while I'm there. I use cedar roofing shims for the bottom supports in my Bundaflicka Bags. Not just any shims, but nice, clean pretty shims. There is a Home Depot in Syracuse that always has the good ones that are not oily or full of knots. I found out that many Bundaflicka afficienados take their bottom supports out, which I never understood, but I like to put them in for the lap tops and textbook people. The wood keeps the bottom boxy and square. Too bad I woke up at 4:50 this morning. Bella enjoyed having her bottle early, and I got my foamy cappucino ala Annie T. made early, but I will drag a bit later to be sure. I think I will sew a bit before the sun comes up, and maybe ply that yellow that's been on the bobbins for a couple of months now.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Safe Inside

The moon is big and close. Who knows what dangers and lunatics are lurking about? Bella and her kitty friend have the right idea - they are sticking together in the safety of the barn, close to the wood stove. After a balmy couple of days the weather turned cold again. I got a nice walk up to the pond with the doggies today. There is still a layer of ice on it and no sign of life. Our foot long gold fish and froggie friends are still sleeping in the mud. That won't last long. I got some grocery shopping in, and made a fresh batch of Shepherd's Friend Hand Creme today. I wish I had more to show for this day, but here we are.

Hints O' Green

A greenish tinge is coming over the hillside. In six weeks or so it will explode with grass (and thistles). I'm not quite ready for the heat/flies but the sheep are plenty ready. I took down the plastic wall in the back of the barn so the sheep who are not with lambs can venture outside. Have to do tails and balls before I can let the moms with babes out. We had a couple of days of big time melting here, with little rivers finding the quickest way down the hill to the creek across the road. I love to watch the bubbling coming up out of the ground. I have two future pond sites I would like to dig. I've been spending some time in the tractor shed and discovered some giant bags of nifty clothes, with many shirts and some shorts for summer. I think I bought every Scottish and Irish wool thrift shop kilt in New Jersey. Glad I saved these treasures from the rug hookers and their scissors. I also found a motherload of mohair fleeces I brought up here with me, along with some lovely black wool fleeces. My Dharma dyes should be in today and I plan on starting up the bubbling pots. I can smell the vinegar now. I hope my two remaining burners are still working. Between roosting chickens and dyes boiling over, burners don't last long. Matt is leaving for Little Rock, Arkansas to teach Mobile Home Weatherization for a week. Good time for me to cover the floor of the little apartment with wool. It gets a bit crazy, but has to be done. I work better inside sitting on the sofa with the wood stove going and a movie on TV. Incredibly, I don't really have a good place to skirt fleeces out in the barn. Too many cats and roosters trying to play with the fleece while I work, so I bring them inside. The big push is on to make product for Maryland Sheep and Wool, then New Hampshire Sheep and Wool the following week. Good news - Mia is coming to Maryland!! She's putting in for the day off. It will be great to have her sunshiny personality in the booth. More good news - Kim and Darryl are going to take me and my shop to New Hampshire! I didn't know how I was going to manage it, just a week after Maryland, and they came to my rescue once again.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Baby Bella

Bella is growing, but not very fast. She has a problem with the tendons in her front legs. They have retracted from her keeping them bent so much. I'm massaging them and holding her up as much as possible. Lately she's trying to stand up much more so I'm hoping she will straighten them out herself. Bella is not what I would call a sturdy lamb. It figures, as her mother is a gorgeous purebred Bluefaced Leicester ewe. I'm hoping when I get Bella on green grass she will be energized enough to want to run around on those bent legs instead of lazing about on the hay.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pee in This Cup

I had to take the required physical to drive students today. I had quite the going over by two M.D's., along with coordination tests, eye-tests, peripheral vision test, banging on my knees, etc. Blood pressure 118/80, the best it's been in a long, long time. A year ago Nurse Tonya had me going to the school nurse to get it checked once a week and keep a record of it. Oh, yes, I had to pee in the cup. They don't want druggies driving their precious kids around. As it was 10 in the morning I know they found a healthy dose of caffeine, which is the only drug I consume - thank you Jesus. One of the last questions the doc asked me was do I feel strong enough to pull a kid out of a burning car. I told him it depends on which kid. He was not amused.

After school I had to stay two hours later for another session of Therapeutic Crisis Intervention training. Basically, we learn how to diffuse a potentially violent situation. We are taken through many scenarios which we have to act out and then critique each other. I finally escaped to a lovely, although gray, afternoon with air smelling a bit like springtime. I could hear lambs screaming for their bottles 25 miles away, which put a damper on my springtime enthusiasm, then realized I had to get gas before I could start home. You don't want to run out of gas in a cell phone dead zone where you rarely pass more than two cars coming the other way during rush hour. I had to go all the way through Norwich to the gas station where I can redeem my grocery store points and get gas for 80 cents a gallon cheaper. It really helps! I made it home in time to take the doggies up the hill in daylight. I'm still hiking in snow, but there are bare spots and no drifts to sink in. I love to see the little springs bubbling up through the pasture grass. I think we are over the hump so to speak. I know the sheep will be thrilled to get out on the hill. It can't happen soon enough for me.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Peace and Quiet

I'm watching footage of the tsunami in Japan. I confess I am not fond of the Japanese as a culture, it has to do with being a history major and lover of whales, but I wouldn't wish this suffering on anyone. Very,very horrifying. I'm glad Eric got Annie, Hannah and Luke off the California coast and away from the Ring of Fire. We are lucky in my part of Central New York as we are relatively free from hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, etc. Mother Nature has a way of slapping us down - some more than others. What's on deck for today? I'm hoping to make soap and sew, and do some chores around the barn. The enormity of this place is daunting, so I've learned not to be too ambitious. Just when I think I've got something done inside, there is the huge barn to think about. I've got some tails to dock and shots to give. I need to make product for spring shows now, and that is a convenient excuse not to sweep and mop, etc., but I like a clean place as much as anyone else. I make everything I sell, fabulous idea, but an enormous task. I spent a bit of time getting my Colorscape application photos in yesterday morning. We set out for lunch and the movies as it was Matt's birthday. We saw The King's Speech, which I've been hoping to see since Christmas. It was worth the wait. Colin Firth was good but Geoffrey Rush was even better. I had just settled down after chores last night when Mia called. We had a long, lovely chat. What a sweet daughter I have. We talked and talked about the wedding and what went right and what went wrong and how it didn't matter at all. Mia has so much going on, with her master's degree, work, moving, etc. This semester was tough as every spare minute which should have been devoted to homework and clinicals was focused on the wedding and honeymoon. Mia worried over every detail and other people's details, too. So like her. She's the most unselfish girl I know. We agreed this semester will be over in six weeks and another one will begin. She'll have more time to buckle down on her studies then. Mia's thinking she will graduate next May instead of December and I told her that was the smarter thing to do. I don't want her stressed and unhappy. Mia has to work a ten hour shift today, then stay an extra four hours for an extended shift...and there's no sitting at a desk or lounging in a cafeteria. The hospital figures out the minimum coverage needed for X number of patients and reduces staff so they have to work their tails off. Nice, huh? Andrew will pack up the apartment and get it moved over to his mother's house. We made plans to have a girl's weekend in Morristown and maybe get a room at the Hyatt. We'll shop at the Bargain Box and drink coffee at Greenberrys, then have lunch at our favorite sushi restaurant. The apartment is a terrific location to walk into Morristown but two thousand a month is crazy for a little walk up apartment in an old house with NO parking. They want a place of their own and I know they'll get it. I need to get to work on this place of my own...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Three Weeks Ago

This week has drawn to an end, with gray skies, much precipitation and melting, but clear roads. Would we appreciate summer so much without the cold and inconvenience of winter? I don't think so. It's been three weeks since the Wedding of the Century (for me, that is) has taken place. I wish it wasn't over. As glorious as it was in many ways, I think of things I would have done differently, but that is my nature - to mull things over instead of leaving it alone. Mia is thrilled with her wedding and reports that married life is everything she hoped it would be. That's music to my ears. She and Andrew are moving in with Andrew's parents in Succasunna to save money for their own house. There are two rooms available to them there, and Mia says she is way too busy with school and work to look for a house now anyway. The two thousand dollars a month rent they will save will go a long way toward a down payment. Housing around Morristown is prohibitively expensive, to say the least. I have my sheep to keep me company and make me happy, which is why I have them in the first place (oh, yes, there's the wool). It was so nice to have so many people I love in the same room together, even for just a few hours. I don't know when I will see them all again as we are spread out all over the world.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Life Goes On

Winter drags on with gray skies and cold rain. Life in the barn consists of making sure the lambs and kids get what they need to grow and thrive. Tiny Dancer figured out how to get on the teat without my holding mom still, but still likes me to visit her in the pen to make sure everything goes smoothly. Bella is not coming along quite the way I hoped, and spends too much time lying down with the kitties. I've been putting her in the barn when I leave for work so she knows what it's like to live with sheep. She's very happy to see me come home and gets up to do a happy dance but is very stiff from sitting with her knees bent all day. I'll be happy when the sheep are on the hillside, standing and grazing on green grass all day long.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Love Them Taters

I bought a 50 pound bag of "cull" potatoes from Ron Wagner, the veggie guy across from me at the farmer's market. He sells the big bag of culls for $10. The only thing wrong with them is their odd shapes. I kind of enjoy the funny taters in all shapes and sizes. The 50 pounds of taters lasted almost six months. I made mashed potatoes with lots of veggie pepper, sea salt, butter and DILL, my favorite spice, with sage sausages and asparagus for dinner tonight. It was mouth wateringly delicious. Beastie Boy was very satisfied and is now stretched out on the sofa in his chore clothes. I miss the Hamilton farmer's market and all the lovely wondrous crafts and food. My application came in the mail recently and I will definitely do the market again this year. After chores I should really put a dent in the dishes but I'm better at that first thing in the morning while I'm waiting for the coffee to drip. Little Bella is underneath my sewing machine, watching me intently. She spent the day in the barn in her own pen where she can see everybody but they can't get at her and step on her, or butt her. Bella was SOOOO happy to see me when I got home from work. She jumped up and started doing a little dance, which is unusual for Bella. She makes little baas when I walk past her in the house, but rarely does a happy dance. I feel better about leaving her in the barn, even though she does not play well with others. She took a nice long bottle for me and I took her in the house. A little sewing for me tonight, then some shut eye. Cinnamon tea for my night-night drink, then I'm going horizontal - before it's too late!!

Hadley Likes My Soap

Hadley, Missy and Simon Moores' darling baby daughter, likes to play with my goat milk soap. I'm so thrilled! I think it's safer for babies to play with than Lego, and it's very mild and kind to baby skin in the bath. Missy Moores works with Mia at Morristown Memorial and was in her bridal party. Hadley is just tooooo cute!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Drifted Over

The front and back of my barn is drifted over. Very beautiful but we had to dig out to get to the vehicles. I'm disappointed when a snow storm is over and we have to go back to work. It's such a wonderful escape to be cut off from the world for a day or two.